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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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Late Medieval Developments

Late Medieval Developments

(p.195) Chapter Twelve Late Medieval Developments
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism

David Novak

Liverpool University Press

This chapter studies how, following Maimonides and Albo, several other prominent Jewish thinkers reflected on the role of Noahide law both within Judaism internally and in relation to gentiles externally. Perhaps the medieval thinker who expanded the concept of the Noahide to its greatest point was Menachem ha-Meiri. He states definitively that there are no idolaters today like the pagans of the ancient world. Non-Jews are bound by religion, and clearly function in the moral universe as Noahides. By accepting the universal moral law, one that is written into the very essence of being human, Christians have a point of ethical commonality with the people of revelation. The chapter then argues that Meiri revived the biblical institution of the ger toshav, though of course absent the political dimension. It also considers the work of two nineteenth-century, Italian-Jewish thinkers: Samuel David Luzzatto and Elijah Benamozegh. Benamozegh presents a novel approach to Noahide law. He is the first—and, to this point, only—important Jewish philosopher to deem the content of this law to form a separate religion, “Noahism,” a religion that Benamozegh judged distinct from Judaism's monotheistic rivals.

Keywords:   Jewish medieval thinkers, Noahide law, Judaism, Menachem ha-Meiri, non-Jews, universal moral law, ger toshav, Samuel David Luzzatto, Elijah Benamozegh, Noahism

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